On the third Wednesday of every month, the I Mostly Read It Book Club convenes to talk about a book that there is a decent chance not all of us read. But we are still ready to offer opinions on the topic! We designate a discussion leader to pick a book and help guide the rest of us as the session unfolds. Whether the book has been read by all or not, the group’s collective experiences drive a thoughtful and enriching conversation, which can only serve to build a more awesome world!.
In July, as per usual, we had not all read the book (Ruthless Consistency by Michael Canic). Leslie Wright of Collective Clarity took it one step further, sharing, “I actually watched a YouTube video—an hour-long presentation. That was super, because I knew I wouldn’t read it right now because of other stuff.”
(And here is a link to Michael Canic’s Ruthless Consistency presentation if you are interested but in that same boat!)
Once again, the club’s theme held firm, and it allowed the members to focus on their particular interest areas within the book. Regenia Bailey of RDB Leadership shared, “I was very grateful for the title of the book club. I was . . . super engaged in the developing strategy part. But when you get into the culture, that’s not my thing. And so I was like, ‘Okay, I really need to bring a lot to this.’ So it was slower going for me.”
At this point, I had to jump in because I am all over the cultural aspects of organizations, “I think the culture piece would probably appeal to me more than the rest of it, just based on the premise of what he was writing.”
I noted a challenge common to participants in NewBoCo’s Intrapreneur Academy, where integrating strategic planning into the organization’s culture is a challenge. As a former strategic development manager, I experienced this effort. More often than not, the organization treats strategic development as something to be done at a point in time rather than an ongoing effort.
Regenia noted, “Well, he had me at ‘the culture of failure becomes self-perpetuating.’” She went on to share that in former organizations, a missed goal meant continued missing of goals and eventual acceptance of the failure. She shared that now, as a consultant, she is looking at how to share and implement this with people over whom she has no control.
Jody Seibert of Fix Your Accounting, our discussion leader for the session, then took hold of the heated conversation and provided some direction. “What really struck me about this book,” she said, “it just brings it all down to earth. And it really resonated with my very practical brain, which is all me. And I like the higher stuff, too, but the rubber has to meet the road, and you’ve got to get stuff done. It’s one of those books, like, you need to read every year.”
These thoughts moved us to look at this through the common lens of consulting, which we all happened to share. As consultants, we can often facilitate and recommend, but when it comes down to it, how does one inspire implementation when there is no direct, formal control in an organization’s strategy?
Leslie added, “people want to do strategic planning as a solution to something that is causing them pain, discomfort, whatever. . . .So, strategy can only survive if there’s actually some architecture or an ecosystem that supports it.” We can focus on tasks, but it likely won’t get done if the culture doesn’t support the work.
And this is the tough job of leaders. This needs to be ruthlessly consistent, as the book zeroes in on. Are the leaders we are or that we work with ready to have those tough conversations? Regenia noted, “I also put myself in those shoes and say, like, ‘would I be always willing to have those conversations?’ And there are times that I would have to say, ‘wow, you know, that’s a heavy lift.’ So I think that that’s part of it, too—is how do you—in my role as a consultant—how do you coach your leaders to be the people who are willing to have those hard conversations?”
In our discussion, we made critical points about the importance of workplace culture, setting expectations, and the fact that strategic work isn’t a neat, tidy straight pipeline of effort that simply flows. Instead, it can be crooked and chaotic and require tough-minded people to navigate it. Nevertheless, strategy is critical to business success. Seeing it as a distraction will never allow it to integrate into a culture, process, and mindset that enables success in the business.
Ruthless Consistency by Michael Canic is worth the read if you’d like to integrate strategy in your organization more effectively.
And join us for future conversations about books that make you think! Visit the NewBoCo events calendar to register for the book club. We meet at noon on the third Wednesday of every month. Remember, you only have to have Mostly Read It—or just watch a video! We welcome your opinions as they unfold. Email firstname.lastname@example.org with any questions!